Burbank to allow cellular towers in public right-of-ways, angering residents

The City Council this week moved to allow cellular towers on new poles in public right-of-ways provided the service provider obtains an encroachment permit.

Residents who live within 1,000 feet of the proposed tower will be notified of the permit once it is pulled, according to the process approved by the City Council on Tuesday. Anyone will be able to file an appeal.

In the 3-1 vote, Councilman David Gordon was the sole dissenter and Councilman Gary Bric was absent.

Officials on Tuesday also recommended keeping the city’s existing ordinance on wireless telecommunications facilities — which allows controversial cell towers on institutional properties in residential areas — as is, despite heavy opposition from local residents.

More than a dozen local residents clad in “Save Burbank Neighborhoods” T-shirts flocked to the meeting demanding the city more seriously explore their list of gripes with the existing regulations regarding wireless facilities in residential zones.

When the same group successfully campaigned to keep a wireless telecommunications facility off the Little White Chapel on North Avon Street earlier this year, the City Council decided to take a closer look at cell tower regulations.

But when city officials returned to the council Tuesday without implementing any of the residents’ suggestions into the ordinance, they felt their voices weren’t being heard.

The group had called for ongoing inspections of radio frequency emissions, equipment disclosure, encroachment limits of cell towers in residential neighborhoods, time limits on cell tower permits and increased public noticing.

“Save Burbank Neighborhoods is outraged by city staff’s refusal to listen to the public and protect the property value, public health and character of our residential neighborhoods,” the group posted on its website.

During the more than two-hour discussion Tuesday night, the council directed officials to host a study session with a cell-tower policy expert and local residents to explore the feasibility of implementing the group’s suggestions into the ordinance.

“We may make further modifications to the rules about wireless telecommunications facilities in residential areas,” Mayor Dave Golonski said Wednesday.

According to the ordinance, facilities that are used to collect utility customer meter data get a six-month exemption from the new regulations. That would include the Southern California Gas Company, which has plans to install five new poles with meter equipment in residential neighborhoods.

Residents who live near the five locations will be notified about the project before the ordinance returns to the City Council on Jan. 8 for a second reading. The locations include 1322 Griffith Park Dr., 1040 Fairview St., 2215 Niagra St., 1100 Sixth St. and 1405 Country Club Road., according to the utility.

If the ordinance containing the exemption passes the second reading, there will be no appeal process for the gas company’s proposal.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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